Thursday, the 29th of August, 2002
Roasted Portobello Caps with Warm Bean Filling
1.5 cups canned white beans
2 large portobello mushrooms
5 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Half a lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons crumbled dried sage
0.5 teaspoon thyme
2 Roma tomatoes
1 large orange or yellow bell pepper
0.333 cup thinly sliced green onions
- Roast the pepper
If using an electric oven, preheat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub the pepper lightly with olive oil. Place it on a small, shallow-sided pan. Broil for about 12 minutes, turning the pepper every few minutes. The skin should get browned in spots and even a little blackened.
Put the pepper in a bowl. Cover it with foil or plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. When it is at room temperature, cut it in half and drain out the liquid. Scrape out the seeds and membranes. Scrape off the skin.
- Prepare the beans
Drain the can of beans. Put them in a small saucepan and set them on the range at low heat. Add in 0.5 cup water to keep the beans from scorching, cover the pan, and let it sit.
- Cook the mushrooms
Cut the ends of the portobello stems so they are level with the edges of the caps. Brush a baking sheet with oil. Place the mushroom caps on the sheet, stem side down. Brush the caps with about 2 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto them.
Put the pan in the oven and roast the mushrooms at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes. They should be dark brown and the edges should be bubbling a little bit. Flip them over and cook for about five more minutes. They should be soft but still wet.
- Prepare the salad
Pour two tablespoons of olive oil into a bowl. Squeeze the half lemon into it. Add the mustard, sage, and thyme. Stir vigorously until it is reasonably well mixed.
Slice the tomatoes open lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and gooey stuff. Cut off the membranes, so all that's left is the skin and the outer flesh. Cut it into quarter-inch-square pieces and toss the pieces into the bowl.
Cut the pepper into similarly sized pieces and toss them into the bowl. Add the green onion bits. Just before you take the mushrooms out of the oven, drain the beans and pour them into the bowl. Thoroughly mix the lot.
- Serve it
Put one mushroom on each plate, stem-side up. Heap the salad mixture on the mushrooms, spilling over onto the plate. Slice up some bread and serve. This makes a good meal for two.
The camera arrived yesterday. It's missing its USB cable, so I can't actually upload anything. Oh well - I'll just go get a compactflash card reader in a couple of days. So far, I'm happy with it. The screen is bright and very clear. There were two things that particularly annoyed me about my old Fujifilm MX-500, and both are much improved with the PowerShot A10. It's fast, so there's no sitting around waiting for ten seconds between shots, or even waiting for two or three seconds after clicking the shutter before the picture actually takes. There's still a slight pause after clicking the button before the picture exposes, and you have to wait about three seconds before you can take another one. Still, it's not often you need a better response time than that and it's much better than what I've been used to til now. The A10 also has a button on the back panel dedicated to changing flash modes - with the MX-500, you had to spin the wheel to "settings", wait for eight or ten seconds while the camera switched modes, use the menu to change the flash setting, and spin the wheel back to "camera" mode. No more - just click it to cycle between auto, red-eye, and off. I am looking forward to it.
I talked to my sister Carolyn the other day. She's bubbling full of enthusiasm over the camera I sent her. It's a Jam Cam, a rugged little black and silver unit with a 640x480 pixel CCD and enough memory to hold eight pictures. I figured it was a good starter model for a twelve year old, and thought it might be useful for the family newspaper she publishes every week or two. She's apparently been using it constantly, taking pictures of the other kids; my mother says she rarely sees Carolyn get that excited about anything.
I wanted to replace my lost MX-500 before the Doll Factory tour begins. I want to make a little website full of pictures to commemorate the trip, and there's just no way I'm doing that with film.
Band practice is going pretty well. I've got the first three songs pretty well down by now; I've memorized them and have little counting-tricks for keeping track of the breaks and pattern changes. Still, I have trouble identifying the songs from the opening bars, so a few times last night I came in a few bars late because I had to wait to see what I was supposed to be playing. I am confident that I will have the other songs memorized after another week; we have been getting together twice a week and I've been working on the pieces by myself between each practice.
Playing with Doll Factory has gotten my creative buzz going again. I did some noodling around last night and got a really neat bass line going. I think it could go somewhere if I develop it well. Unfortunately, in the Martian Theory of Song Construction, the next step after creating the bass line/chord structure (the song's skeleton) is to record vocals, and I don't have a satisfactory technological solution for that problem yet. I have some more ideas, though, so I'll see if I can make something out of it.
Sunday, the 18th of August, 2002
I just placed a bid on eBay for a new camera: a Canon PowerShot A10. It has the same resolution as my old one, which is fine. It uses CompactFlash instead of SmartMedia, which is not so fine but still tolerable. It uses AA batteries, which is a requirement, has an optical zoom, which is neat but not particularly compelling, and - here's where I get excited - there's a button on the back of the case that toggles the flash on and off. One button! No more "spin the little wheel, wait for the options menu to come up, scroll down to the flash setting, switch through the available options, spin the wheel back, wait some more". You just turn it on when you need it and off when you don't. I've also heard this camera starts up in two seconds, which is a lot better than the 6-8 seconds my old one required.
I probably won't win it. I'm secretly hoping someone outbids me, so I can put off paying for it until September, but it would be nice to get the Photo-Of-The-Day scheme back up so I won't be disappointed if I do end up getting it.
Tuesday, the 6th of August, 2002
I am a flaming geek.
In the mail, two new books: "Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools" - the venerable dragon book - by Aho, Sethi, and Ullman, and "Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code" by Martin Fowler.
There's another compiler book coming any day, too.
Monday, the 5th of August, 2002
Rebecca Blood pointed out an interesting article
on organic farming which argues a premise which, while
novel, was perhaps inevitable: in gaining popularity, the industry has lost the sustainability tied in with its original ideals.
Organic farming in the 21st century is turning out to be a little more complicated than its advocates originally expected. For example, there was the time a few years ago that Gould was sent by Eco-Cert, a German certification agency, to oversee the company's first certification project in Japan.
"I was inspecting a Japanese food processor who was importing soybeans from China to process into goods for export to Europe," said Gould. "I said to Eco-Cert: 'We're circling the globe with organic. Isn't this a little bizarre, a little ... unsustainable?'"